Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stamping practice/comparisons - Konad Vs. Salon Express (and a Bundle Monster plate)

I have been trying to get into stamping. But it's hard to practice on a fresh mani and potentially mess it up. And I'm usually too excited to remove an old mani in anticipation for my next one to sit there and practice on something that's about to get removed. I have owned my Salon Express kit for a few months and I have tried a few times without much luck. I was ready to give up on stamping altogether but my lovely friend at My Life in Polish suggested I use her tried and true Konad stamper first. Which led to an idea about comparing the stampers and the plates.

I set out to practice - knowing full well I would have to repaint my nails several times. Luckily, this whole process only took about 11 painted/repainted nails. Not too shabby. These pictures show the brand of stamper used for each nail as written above the nail. The brand of the plate is written in the top corner of the photo.

First up we have Zoya Arizona stamped with Zoya Areej. I wanted to start with one of my oldest and thickest polishes and Areej has been worn a lot and never thinned. I practiced on about 4 nails and went for it. This is the Salon Express plate "SE22". While I need some practice with these full nail designs, and rocking the stamper to fit my curved nail, I really liked this design. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the Konad stamper gave a slightly darker result in real life. Since it's barely noticeable, and could be caused by the fact this was my first official set after little practice, I would probably call this one a draw.

Next is Zoya Caitlin stamped with Zoya Dove. Zoya Dove is not thick and has not been used much at all. Which was kind of the point in my test here. This is with the Konad plate m3. I randomly placed the stamper twice on each nail so the layout is not the same. But I did use the same 4 heart design each time. I probably had the hardest time with this plate. I'm not sure if it was the tiny designs or the Konad brand, but these hearts turned out terrible! And no matter how many times I tried, I could not get them to pick up any better. Could it have been the polish? Either way - the Konad stamper made more hearts that were actually filled in and shaped properly so I would call Konad the winner for this one.

The last comparison is Zoya Yasmeen stamped with Zoya Rory. Rory is a really great 2 coat polish that makes for a lightning fast manicure. I thought I had heard foils were good for stamping so I was excited to try it. This is the Bundle Monster plate 210. Now, I realize my pinky looks kind of terrible. This is the combination of a few factors. First, when I put the Konad design on it was so bad, I had to try and remove it quickly and salvage the paint underneath. In doing so, I think I compromised the final look. Second, placement was terrible and that is my fault. Of course this nail would look better if the design had been placed the way it was on my ring finger. But in the end - the clear winner is the Salon Express stamper. I actually really loved how my ring finger turned out and debated making an entire mani around it. But, I was kind of sick of painting my nails by the end of the process so I didn't follow through. Also - what the picture doesn't show is the eleventy zillion times I tried to load the Konad for this stamp and utterly failed. I have no idea why. I actually can't make sense of why the Konad would be fine for some of the other applications, then suddenly fail on this plate or polish?

  • My favorite plate is probably the Salon Express. I had the least amount of trouble with their designs.The Bundle Monster was pretty great with the Rory/Salon Express stamper. But since I had more trouble with the Konad stamper on that - I can't call it my favorite. The design I used from there though - love it!
The stampers are a draw for me.
  • What I like about the Salon Express is the big and small ends. However, the stamper ends seem to fall out kind of easily.
  • What I like about the Konad is the functional handle design. It's short but it seems easier to use with the contoured handle. 
The price point/kit angle:
  •  I like that I can get the Salon Express full kit and be on my way to stamping for $6-10 locally (Walmart, Big Lots, Ross, etc.). The selection of the kit plate designs is just kind of meh to me, but everyone has their different preferences. Being able to hold the kit in my hands to analyze it was a big selling point for me.
  • I like that I can buy a Konad kit on Amazon or eBay and have it all shipped to my door, and have the option to choose what plates I like. However, to a new stamper - all these choices can be a bit overwhelming. 
  • The scrapers were comparable with both kits, and I tried a credit card too. The biggest pointer I have here is to watch the angle of scraping so you don't scrape too much or too little. 
  • Seriously - you will need to file the stamper with a nail file to help it pick up the polish. It's scary, but I promise - just a little rough up, then practice, then rough up again if you still aren't having any luck. When it's working, you will just know. I can't describe what the polish does when it's working, but really - the clouds will part and a rainbow will shine when you have it figured out. :)
Overall, I am happy I started with the Salon Express kit. I remember being completely overwhelmed and unable to make a decision when I tried looking for a Konad kit that would work for me. Due to my difficulties with using it at first, I was worried it had turned me off of stamping. But it turns out I really just needed to file it with a nail file - and see how a "broken in" stamper should work to really wrap my head around the process.  Now that I know what I am doing a bit more, I feel more comfortable looking at the options online to choose more plates or experiment with different stampers for ease of use. I would suggest Salon Express to someone who likes to shop local, prefers to see before they buy, and wants an easy choice that is not too overwhelming. I suggest the Konad kits to those who prefer online shopping and want to be able to customize their choices.

Thanks for sticking it out and reading all of that. I hope you enjoyed my first small novel! :)



  1. Cool! now im def buying salon express. my friend has one too. thx for the info!

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